SPEED.com has selected NASCAR’s top 10 drivers — across the three major national series — in 2010 and will spotlight them for two weeks. Today: Driver No. 7 — Nationwide Series champion Brad Keselowski.
Brad Keselowski didn’t have the Sprint Cup season that he anticipated, but, on the other side of the garage it was a banner year for one of NASCAR’s rising stars.
Keselowski went winless in Cup and finished a sour 25th in the point standings, but, in his first try at running both the full Cup and Nationwide schedules, he captured the Nationwide championship easily, finishing a whopping 445 points ahead of second-place Carl Edwards, another double-duty driver.
The title was particularly important in that it was the first NASCAR championship scored by team owner Roger Penske, who began racing in NASCAR in the early 1970s.
Keselowski battled rival Edwards all season, eventually putting up the kind of numbers — six wins, 25 top fives (a record) and 28 top 10s — that Edwards couldn’t challenge. Although fellow Sprint Cup invader Kyle Busch dominated the series in the victory column with 13, he ran only 29 of the 35 starts, eliminating any shot he had at repeating his 2009 title.
Keselowski got the full flavor of what it means to run both top series full time in April at Talladega Superspeedway as bad weather and postponements led officials to schedule both the Cup and Nationwide races on the same day.
It was almost a calamity for Keselowski. He experienced high carbon monoxide levels after a crash in the Cup race. After treatment at the infield medical center, he was released to race in the Nationwide event only minutes before its start.
Showing no ill effects from the problems earlier in the day, Keselowski outwrestled Kevin Harvick for the lead on the final lap of a green-white-checkered restart and won the race.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.